Sunday, April 22, 2007

Hair shirts

Companies enjoy giving away low cost freebies like pens, T shirts and gadgets. It is good business sense: the prospective customer feels like they have got themselves something for nothing, the business gets their name spread around and their brand as well.

It is a thin line between a gift and a bribe of course, but unless you are a Company Director then the monetary value is generally low.

However, branding plays a role in the desirability. In 1988, I joined CCT Theatre Lighting, a good brand (number 2 in the market), well respected in the professional sector and thought of as a cool company. Shortly after I joined, they acquired Furse Theatre Products, a company well respected in the educational sector but with a poor image on the pro side, due to some rather duff ranges of products in the 60s & 70s.

Consequently, we did a big promotion at Riverside Studios (actually in a Pub down the road from the trade show) and had loads of T shirts made which proved very popular. I was visiting a theatre a few weeks later and the electrician asked if we had any left. "Sorry", I said, "We've run out of CCT ones, but we have plenty of Furse ones left." Pause. "Oh-kay." he said. "I could always wear it for get-ins, or maybe when I'm cleaning out the Pit or the Roof Void."

We often get giveaway stuff from our suppliers at work, particularly if we've bought something from them. The creativity waxes and wanes (the oddest item I received was a dolls house size office furniture set and the most useful was a monitor mirror). I was given a T shirt during the week, on condition that it appeared on Shades. It looked huge on David, unstylish on Karen and downright unpleasant on me.

However, there was a solution... the dog.

(No dogs were harmed in the production of this blog entry).

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